Friday, January 06, 2006

On the matter of aging

Several years ago The New Yorker magazine published a cartoon showing a man with a newspaper. With a distressed look on his face, he was reading a page with a headline in large type reading: "Obituaries."

Below the main headline, the page had several sub-heads printed in a smaller size of type. One read: "Five years younger than me." Another subhead read: "Two years younger than me." Still another subhead read: "Same age as me." The man in the cartoon looked as if he was preoccupied making mental calculations.

Increasingly, I find myself viewing the obituary page of my local newspaper with the same rapt attention to the ages of the deceased. My youngest grandson, now in the first grade, hasn't helped matters with his insistent inquiries about my age and his astonishment that I am so many years older than he is. He seems puzzled that I can still be around at such an advanced age.

A Dutch respondent to this blog, who is enamored with American literature, has written to me that Mark Twain once said: "Age is an issue of mind over matter. If you don't mind, it doesn't matter."

Despite my regular attention to the obituary page in my local newspaper, I am trying to make Mr. Twain's maxim a formula for my own life.

9 Comments:

Blogger Observer said...

Inside every older person is a younger person wondering what the hell happened.

Ivan
(Will be 79 next month and still wondering)

Saturday, January 07, 2006 3:22:00 PM  
Blogger Anvilcloud said...

I am only approaching 60, but I find that death is already on my mind. It's difficult to contemplate one's own mortality, especiallu when it is no longer a theoretical abstract (or whatever).

Saturday, January 07, 2006 11:42:00 PM  
Blogger Leon said...

Another aspect of this are some phone calls we get from our parents. "Remember so-and-so? He died. Remeber Mrs X, well, she died too".

Sunday, January 08, 2006 1:21:00 AM  
Blogger Don R said...

Getting old has its pains but, the alternative (Dying young) really stinks.
I have 7 grandchildren and watching them grow brings joys to my life.

Monday, January 09, 2006 2:20:00 AM  
Blogger Ruth said...

I have noticed that attitudes about age seem to have shifted a bit from, oh, forty years ago. I remember my grandmother insistently lying about her age, to the point that she inked in the "correct" year of birth on her driver's license. I don't see women or men doing much of that anymore.

I am older now than she was when I was born. That is the sort of benchmark that hits me the hardest, not the numbers per se but their connections and connotations. When my mother and grandmother were my age, they were grandmothers. I am back in school, with colleagues my children's ages, and I liked the idea of turning 50. I do not know what my grandmother would think of any of this.

I enjoy your blog so much -- I do not often leave comments, but I have a wonderful time reading it. And thanks again for permission to quote you in classes and sermons!

Tuesday, January 10, 2006 12:22:00 AM  
Anonymous Melli said...

As a middle aged (48) housewife and mother I find the process of aging to be much more a headache the actually being of a certain age! I don't mind being 48 any more than I minded being 32 or 17... I just HOPE that when I'm 80 I can write about such interesting things as dining with Henry Kissinger! Annnnd I wish MY children had a grandpa like you to look up to with awe! I only just discovered your blog a few days ago -- but I've been through many of your entries already and plan to keep coming back! I really enjoy your style... :)

Tuesday, January 10, 2006 11:55:00 AM  
Blogger Norma said...

It always bothers me that some people die without a verb (in the obits), so I wrote a poem about it. I know we are different faiths, but I invite you to enjoy it.

Dying for a verb

Tuesday, January 10, 2006 8:02:00 PM  
Blogger Richard Fouts said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

Sunday, January 29, 2006 10:36:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thought your blog was great. Here's a great place you might like self-hypnosis.

Sunday, July 30, 2006 8:31:00 AM  

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